Under-deck Enclosure - Part 2 of 3

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Made of weather-resistant vinyl, this under-deck system creates an attractive, maintenance-free ceiling that keeps the space below dry throughout the seasons.

 

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Overview

Second-story walk-out decks can be a mixed blessing. On top, you have an open, sun-filled perch with a commanding view of the landscape. The space below the deck, however, is all too often a dark and chilly nook that is functionally unprotected from water runoff. As a result, an under-deck area often ends up as wasted space or becomes a holding area for seasonal storage items or the less desirable outdoor furniture.
But there’s an easy way to reclaim all that convenient outdoor space—by installing a weatherizing ceiling system that captures runoff water from the deck above, leaving the area below dry enough to convert into a versatile outdoor room. You can even enclose the space to create a screened-in patio room.
The under-deck system featured in this project is designed for do-it-yourself installation. Its components are made to fit almost any standard deck and come in three sizes to accommodate different deck-joist spacing (for 12", 16", and 24" on-center spacing). Once the system is in place, the under-deck area is effectively “dried in”, and you can begin adding amenities like overhead lighting, ceiling fans, and speakers to complete the outdoor room environment.
The system works by capturing water that falls through the decking above and channeling it to the outside edge of the deck. Depending on your plans, you can let the water fall from the ceiling panels along the deck’s edge, or you can install a standard rain gutter and downspout to direct the water to a single exit point on the ground.

What You'll Need

Tools:

4-ft. level
Chalk line
Caulking gun
Drill
Aviation snips
Hacksaw (for optional rain gutter)
Under-deck ceiling system
Waterproof acrylic caulk
1" stainless steel screws
Rain gutter system (optional)

Materials:

4-ft. level
Chalk line
Caulking gun
Drill
Aviation snips
Hacksaw (for optional rain gutter)
Under-deck ceiling system
Waterproof acrylic caulk
1" stainless steel screws
Rain gutter system (optional)

 

Step 1

How to Install an Under-deck System

Measure the full length of each joist cavity, and cut a collector panel 1⁄4" shorter than the cavity. This allows room for expansion of the panels. For narrower joist cavities, trim the panel to width following the manufacturer’s sizing recommendations.


Step 2

How to Install an Under-deck System

Scribe and trim the collector panels for a tight fit against the ledger board. Hold a carpenter’s pencil flat against the ledger, and move the pencil along the board to transfer its contours to the panel. Trim the panel along the scribed line.


Step 3

How to Install an Under-deck System

Trim the corners of the collector panels as needed to accommodate joist hangers and other hardware. This may be necessary only at the house side of the joist cavity; at the outer end, the 1⁄4" expansion gap should clear any hardware.


Step 4

How to Install an Under-deck System

Install the collector panels, starting at the house. With the textured side of the panel facing down, insert one side edge into the joist rails, and then push up gently on the opposite side until it fits into the opposing rails. When fully installed, the panels should be tight against the ledger and have a 1⁄4" gap at the rim joist.


Step 5

How to Install an Under-deck System

Prepare each joist gutter by cutting it 1⁄4" shorter than the joist it will attach to (if the joists rest on a structural beam, see Working Around Beams). On the house end of each gutter, trim the corners of the flanges at 45°. This helps the gutter fit tightly to the ledger.


Step 6

How to Install an Under-deck System

Cut four or five 1⁄8" tabs into the bottom surface at the outside ends of the gutters. This helps promote the drainage of water over the edge of the gutter.


Step 7

How to Install an Under-deck System

Attach self-adhesive foam weatherstrip (available from the manufacturer) at the home-end of each joist gutter. Run a bead of caulk along the foam strip to water-seal it to the gutter. The weather strip serves as a water dam.


Step 8

How to Install an Under-deck System

Install each joist gutter by spreading its sides open slightly while pushing the gutter up onto the joist rails until it snaps into place. The gutter should fit snugly against the collector panels. The gutter’s home-end should be tight against the ledger, with the 1⁄4" expansion gap at the rim joist.


Step 9

How to Install an Under-deck System

Prepare the boundary gutters following the same steps used for the joist gutters. Install each boundary gutter by slipping its long, outside flange behind the joist rails and pushing up until the gutter snaps into place. Install the boundary gutters working from the house side to the outer edge of the deck.


Step 10

How to Install an Under-deck System

Run a bead of color-matched caulk along the joint where the collector panels meet the ledger board. This is for decorative purposes only and is not required to prevent water intrusion.


 
 

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